Sunday, 18 January 2009

By George he's back

After a long absence while George Ferguson was swanning around the world pontificating on urban design and the environment, his 'By George' Evening Post column returns with a vengeance. Just after clocking up 10,000 miles of air travel and dumping a whopping 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide on our fragile environment with a trip to Bangalore he sees no irony in promptly jumping on the No Third Runway at Heathrow bandwagon.

In his By George column he says "why oh why , at a time when the world has to reduce pollution and air travel, does our Government propose airport expansion?" (perhaps for the same reason as you chose to swan off to Bangalore, George - putting short term self-interest above long term collective interest?). He goes on to say "A shocking and surprising fact is that we Britons already emit more CO2 from flying than any other people on the planet, and more than double that of the Americans" (and few more than one George Ferguson?).

By this stage of such a rant most of us would feel the little angel of conscience urgently tapping us on the shoulder, but not George. He's just getting into his stride.
"I have listened to the business case for expansion but it is one that I find far fetched and self-seeking by a small but powerful London-centric minority."
This is why George's column is such a rich vein for those of us daring to oppose any of his own 'expansion' plans, such as his attempted land grab at Greenbank. How tempting it is to adapt his words in defense of the 170 metres of historic Railway Path hedgerow that George dismisses as "completely pointless" in his bid to replace it with hotel blocks and terraced housing, supported by 250 car parking spaces!

But eventually even George feels the incessant tapping on his shoulder and decides it's time to steer the blame away from those Very Important People who make those essential jaunts to Bangalore, and Venice, and Dublin (to defend some property tycoon's interests in a Planning Inquiry - nice little earner was it George?). So let's see, who can he scapegoat -
"Surely the greatest forms of unnecessary air travel are domestic flights ..." (actually, no George, all air travel is unnecessary (most people in the world still manage entirely without it) and domestic flights represent a small minority of UK flights).

He goes on "Interestingly the fast rail link between London, Paris and Brussels has reduced air traffic between these capitals to near zero" (actually George, 2.4 million passengers flew between London and Paris in 2007, not quite "near zero"). Sloppy homework, but you can see where he's heading - travel is for the well-heeled and well connected who can afford to use trains in the UK and air for longer haul, while for the rest of us "holidays abroad...become less necessary as temperatures rise and and exchange rates become unfavourable".


Anonymous said...

well highlighted chris, (though couldn;t find the article on your link) such hypocrisy is cringingly embarrassing. Hard to know why the EP put up such poor writing. George, tell us your carbon footprint for the last twelve months please, then we will tell you where to shove your column. Oh yes and it's called 'climate change' these days George, not global warming' - I'm off to put on a jumper.

Chris Hutt said...

His column's not yet posted on-line, but appeared in the Saturday printed edition. It's usually posted on-line on the following Monday.

WestfieldWanderers said...

The article's viewable on line on the BEP website under "Lifestyle".
link here.

Chris Hutt said...

I've updated the 'by george' link in the blog post.